The moon is the simplest body in the solar device to observe with the naked eye. Civilization have wondered about the dark and also light spots on the surface ar throughout history. What led to these weird features? human being have also questioned what makes up our nearest neighbor.

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This picture of craters at the moon"s phibìc pole to be taken by Japan"s Kaguya lunar orbiter ~ above Oct. 31, 2007. (Image credit: JAXA.)

The surface of the moon

Children"s fairytales tell us that the moon is made of cheese, yet like all bodies in the solar system, absent is the much more realistic ingredient. The moon"s surface is covered with dead volcanoes, impact craters, and lava flows, some visible to the unaided stargazer.

Early scientists thought the dark follow me of the moon can be oceans, and also so called such functions mare, which is Latin for "seas" (maria when there are an ext than one). Castle are seas of a sort, but rather than water, together bodies are comprised of pools the hardened lava. Early on in the moon"s history, the inner was molten sufficient to develop volcanoes, though it easily cooled and also hardened. Lava also burst indigenous the crust when big enough asteroids damaged through the surface.

The moon"s surface shows plenty of evidence of asteroids, conveniently seen with a telescope throughout most moon phases. Beforehand in the solar system"s history, every one of the planets and also moons experienced through a period of heavy bombardment, as the last of the large rocks were captured by your gravity and also crashed into their surface. ~ above Earth, key tectonics and erosion extended up much of the proof from this period, if the environment helped come burn up some of the smaller sized offenders prior to they struggle the surface. However the moon lacks all 3 of these cleanup elements, therefore the history of the solar mechanism is preserved on its surface.

Of course, the period of heavy bombardment, i m sorry ended around 3.8 billion year ago, wasn"t responsible for all of the craters top top the moon. Big and little asteroids continued to pelt the surface, but at a slow pace, leading to overlapping craters and craters on peak of lava flows.

The tardy of the moon is comprised of a rocky surface spanned with regolith. Together asteroids and meteorites collide v the surface, they blast it into fine pieces that record imprints (such as Neil Armstrong"s famed footprint) in exceptional detail.

The crust of the moon is around 38 to 63 mile (60 come 100 kilometers) thick. The regolith on the surface have the right to be together shallow as 10 feet (3 meters) in the maria or together deep together 66 feet (20 meters) in the highlands.

Under the surface

Like the Earth, the moon boasts a crust, mantle and core. Deep inside of the interior, the moon may have actually a hard iron core surrounded by a softer, somewhat molten liquid iron external core. The external core may prolong as much out as 310 miles (500 km). Yet the tiny inner core just makes up about 20 percent that the moon, contrasted to the 50 percent main point of other rocky bodies.

Most the the inner of the moon is made up of the lithosphere, i beg your pardon is about 620 miles (1,000 km) thick. As this region melted early in the lunar life, it gave the magma essential to create lava levels on the surface. However, end time, the magma cooled and solidified, thus ending volcanism top top the moon.

Earth"s moon is thesecond-densest moonin the solar system, beaten by Jupiter"s moon, Io. The separation the its inner into layers to be likely led to by the crystallization that a magma s shortly after ~ its formation.


Editor"s Note:This story to be updated come reflect a mediate on Sept. 28 in ~ 9:35 a.m. EDT. The original write-up incorrectly declared that the moon is the second-densest human body in the solar system and that the moon is consisted of of a concrete-like regolith.

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